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10 Memorable Things to Do in Hanoi, Vietnam

The beautiful city of Hanoi is located in the north of the country and is Vietnam's capital city.

Riddled with history and possessing rich culture, good food, and amazing coffee, complete with pockets of beautiful scenery dotting the surrounding landscape.

With so much to choose from, what should you do once you get there?

Here are our top 10 things to do in Hanoi.

1. Hoan Kiem Lake

'Hoan Kiem Lake' translates to 'Lake of the Returned (or Restored) Sword'. The legend dates back to the year 1428 and is best told by a local Hanoian for full effect.

Hoan Kiem Lake is beautiful in the day, as the focal point of life in the historical part of Hanoi. But it truly comes into its own at night, especially in the weekends, as locals crowd the shores participating in various activities like live music, dancing, games and group exercise.

One of the best things to do in Hanoi is to walk the perimeter of the lake at night and look out at the twinkling lights that surround it. You might even spot someone selling bags of tiny Vietnamese strawberries from Dalat as dusk sets in.

The beautiful city of Hanoi is located in the north of the country and is Vietnam's capital city.  Riddled with history and possessing rich culture, good food, and amazing coffee, complete with pockets of beautiful scenery dotting the surrounding landscape.  With so much to choose from, what should you do once you get there?  Here are our top 10 things to do in Hanoi.  1. Hoan Kiem Lake  'Hoan Kiem Lake' translates to 'Lake of the Returned (or Restored) Sword'. The legend dates back to the year 1428 and is best told by a local Hanoian for full effect.  Hoan Kiem Lake is beautiful in the day, as the focal point of life in the historical part of Hanoi. But it truly comes into its own at night, especially in the weekends, as locals crowd the shores participating in various activities like live music, dancing, games and group exercise.  One of the best things to do in Hanoi is to walk the perimeter of the lake at night and look out at the twinkling lights that surround it. You might even spot someone selling bags of tiny Vietnamese strawberries from Dalat as dusk sets in.  2. Walk the Streets of the Old Quarter  A busy, bustling, and intricate web of streets and alleys make up the famous Old Quarter of Hanoi.  There are so many interesting facts behind old Hanoi, like how the streets got their names (each is named for the type of goods traditionally sold there), and why the tall and narrow buildings came to be.  All the stories and legends that make up the city of Hanoi are also an integral part of the culture and heritage of the Hanoian people.  The best way to experience the sights and sounds of the old city is with a guided tour. If you want culture, history, and to get into the mind of the local people, then this is one of the best things to do in Hanoi.  3. Take a Cyclo Through the French Quarter  Pronounced 'see-clo', these nifty chairs on wheels are connected to a bicycle-like contraption.  Your obliging cyclo-driver will show you the sights of the city, including the French and Old Quarters. Replete with magnificent old buildings, patisseries, and culture, you'll experience the city from the comfort of your carriage.  Just be aware, though - with their armchair-like size, cyclos are most comfortable when you ride solo!  4. A Food Tour is One of the Best Things to Do in Hanoi  Hanoi is a foodie's paradise. The thousands of tiny shops, stalls, and restaurants dotted about offer your taste buds a sensational Vietnamese experience.  However, if you’re short on time and don’t speak Vietnamese, it’s easy to get confused by the wealth of delicious options.  Enter the Hanoi street food tour.  With a friendly smile and the enthusiasm of a fellow food-lover, your guide will show you one of the best things to do in Hanoi: Eat!  He'll take you to several - sometimes 7 or 8 - different eateries, and tailor these to your preferences. Instead of being restricted to restaurants that have menus in English, you'll get to eat where the locals do.  And, as any foodie worth their salt knows, a place crammed with locals always has the best grub.  5. Drink Egg Coffee at Giang Cafe  It might sound weird but stay with us - there's a reason it's one of our favourite things to do in Hanoi!  Invented in Hanoi itself, Vietnamese egg coffee or 'ca phe trung', is both unique and surprisingly delicious.  Giang Cafe is tucked away down a small hidden alley and would be tricky to find without the internet.  At a time when milk was scarce in Vietnam, Mr. Giang was working as a bartender for the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi hotel. Using his knowledge and skills, he replaced the milk with egg yolk, and egg coffee was born.  He opened his cafe in 1946, and it's been thronged with both local and international coffee-addicts ever since.  6. Go for Drinks at the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi Hotel  As famous now as it was in Mr. Giang's day, the French colonial-style hotel opened its doors to Hanoi in 1901.  This beautiful piece of history is still grand and imposing in its setting. If you like a taste of the past, this is one of the best things to do in Hanoi. You'll be stepping back into an era of glitz and glamor hard to find today.  We recommend experiencing the atmosphere over drinks, as the hotel's a little pricey. Of course, there's always the option of dinner, or even staying a night or two in the majestic hotel, if you're feeling flush.  7. The Water Puppet Theatre  Dating back to the 11th Century, water puppetry began in the villages of northern Vietnam.  The wooden puppets appear to move gracefully across the water in a fascinating display of skill and drama on the part of the puppeteers.  Watch Vietnamese legends and old plays unfurl before your eyes in a piece of living history you'll never forget.  8. Visit a Night Market  You simply can't visit Asia and not experience a night market!  The night market at Hang Duong is a great example, with hundreds of stalls selling everything you could imagine.  Wind your way through the busy, night-lit stalls, and discover why we reckon it's one of the best things to do in Hanoi.  9. See the 'Hanoi Hilton' (Hoa Lo Prison)  Originally built by the French to house Vietnamese prisoners, Hoa Lo was then used by the Northern Vietnamese to imprison American soldiers, who gave it its nickname.  It's unsurprising that this sad reminder of troubled times has been torn down, now. But a couple of walls still remain, and a museum now stands on the site instead.  10. The Heritage House  Nestled in the streets of the Old Quarter, this historical traditional merchants' house has been lovingly restored to its former glory.  Hanoi is a city known for its crafts, and as far back as the 13th century, crafts guilds began to form. These skilled craftsmen moved into the vicinity of the Old Quarter and many lived together in houses like the Heritage House.  As you wind your way around the house, take in the traditional architecture and intricate carvings. When you're finished, you can buy some crafts to take away with you, to remember this uniquely Hanoian experience.  The Takeaway  Hanoi is a beloved city to the Vietnamese, and with its rich history stretching from medieval to modern times, the vestiges of its past are visible at every turn.  Something we love about Hanoi is, whatever your interests, you can find what you're looking for here.  Whether you're after sumptuous food, a delicious variation on your usual caffeine fix, shopping, or a journey in time, you'll find plenty of things to do in Hanoi.  Liked this post? Why not check out why Sapa should be the next stop on your Vietnamese journey.

2. Walk the Streets of the Old Quarter

A busy, bustling, and intricate web of streets and alleys make up the famous Old Quarter of Hanoi.

There are so many interesting facts behind old Hanoi, like how the streets got their names (each is named for the type of goods traditionally sold there), and why the tall and narrow buildings came to be.

All the stories and legends that make up the city of Hanoi are also an integral part of the culture and heritage of the Hanoian people.

The best way to experience the sights and sounds of the old city is with a guided tour. If you want culture, history, and to get into the mind of the local people, then this is one of the best things to do in Hanoi.

10 Memorable Things to Do in Hanoi, Vietnam

 

3. Take a Cyclo Through the French Quarter

Pronounced 'see-clo', these nifty chairs on wheels are connected to a bicycle-like contraption.

Your obliging cyclo-driver will show you the sights of the city, including the French and Old Quarters. Replete with magnificent old buildings, patisseries, and culture, you'll experience the city from the comfort of your carriage.

Just be aware, though - with their armchair-like size, cyclos are most comfortable when you ride solo!

10 Memorable Things to Do in Hanoi, Vietnam

 

 

4. A Food Tour is One of the Best Things to Do in Hanoi

Hanoi is a foodie's paradise. The thousands of tiny shops, stalls, and restaurants dotted about offer your taste buds a sensational Vietnamese experience.

However, if you’re short on time and don’t speak Vietnamese, it’s easy to get confused by the wealth of delicious options.

Enter the Hanoi street food tour.

With a friendly smile and the enthusiasm of a fellow food-lover, your guide will show you one of the best things to do in Hanoi: Eat!

He'll take you to several - sometimes 7 or 8 - different eateries, and tailor these to your preferences. Instead of being restricted to restaurants that have menus in English, you'll get to eat where the locals do.

And, as any foodie worth their salt knows, a place crammed with locals always has the best grub.

10 Memorable Things to Do in Hanoi, Vietnam

 

5. Drink Egg Coffee at Giang Cafe

It might sound weird but stay with us - there's a reason it's one of our favourite things to do in Hanoi!

Invented in Hanoi itself, Vietnamese egg coffee or 'ca phe trung', is both unique and surprisingly delicious.

Giang Cafe is tucked away down a small hidden alley and would be tricky to find without the internet.

At a time when milk was scarce in Vietnam, Mr. Giang was working as a bartender for the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi hotel. Using his knowledge and skills, he replaced the milk with egg yolk, and egg coffee was born.

He opened his cafe in 1946, and it's been thronged with both local and international coffee-addicts ever since.

10 Memorable Things to Do in Hanoi, Vietnam

 

6. Go for Drinks at the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi Hotel

As famous now as it was in Mr. Giang's day, the French colonial-style hotel opened its doors to Hanoi in 1901.

This beautiful piece of history is still grand and imposing in its setting. If you like a taste of the past, this is one of the best things to do in Hanoi. You'll be stepping back into an era of glitz and glamor hard to find today.

We recommend experiencing the atmosphere over drinks, as the hotel's a little pricey. Of course, there's always the option of dinner, or even staying a night or two in the majestic hotel, if you're feeling flush.

10 Memorable Things to Do in Hanoi, Vietnam

 

7. The Water Puppet Theatre

Dating back to the 11th Century, water puppetry began in the villages of northern Vietnam.

The wooden puppets appear to move gracefully across the water in a fascinating display of skill and drama on the part of the puppeteers.

Watch Vietnamese legends and old plays unfurl before your eyes in a piece of living history you'll never forget.

 

10 Memorable Things to Do in Hanoi, Vietnam

8. Visit a Night Market

You simply can't visit Asia and not experience a night market!

The night market at Hang Duong is a great example, with hundreds of stalls selling everything you could imagine.

Wind your way through the busy, night-lit stalls, and discover why we reckon it's one of the best things to do in Hanoi.

10 Memorable Things to Do in Hanoi, Vietnam

9. See the 'Hanoi Hilton' (Hoa Lo Prison)

Originally built by the French to house Vietnamese prisoners, Hoa Lo was then used by the Northern Vietnamese to imprison American soldiers, who gave it its nickname.

It's unsurprising that this sad reminder of troubled times has been torn down, now. But a couple of walls still remain, and a museum now stands on the site instead.

10 Memorable Things to Do in Hanoi, Vietnam

10. The Heritage House

Nestled in the streets of the Old Quarter, this historical traditional merchants' house has been lovingly restored to its former glory.

Hanoi is a city known for its crafts, and as far back as the 13th century, crafts guilds began to form. These skilled craftsmen moved into the vicinity of the Old Quarter and many lived together in houses like the Heritage House.

As you wind your way around the house, take in the traditional architecture and intricate carvings. When you're finished, you can buy some crafts to take away with you, to remember this uniquely Hanoian experience.

10 Memorable Things to Do in Hanoi, Vietnam

The Takeaway

Hanoi is a beloved city to the Vietnamese, and with its rich history stretching from medieval to modern times, the vestiges of its past are visible at every turn.

Something we love about Hanoi is, whatever your interests, you can find what you're looking for here.

Whether you're after sumptuous food, a delicious variation on your usual caffeine fix, shopping, or a journey in time, you'll find plenty of things to do in Hanoi.

Liked this post? Why not check out why Sapa should be the next stop on your Vietnamese journey.

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